Cookeville, TN – Despite playing with Division I-AA opponent Tennessee Tech for much of the first half, the North Greenville University football team dropped its second straight game of the season 42-14 as the Golden Eagles used 21 second half points to down the Crusaders on Thursday night.
In the first quarter of play, North Greenville forced the Golden Eagles to punt on their first possession of the game before the Crusaders were forced to do the same on their inaugural series.
After receiving the punt at the TTU 11-yard line, the Golden Eagles put together a 6-play, 89-yard drive that ended with a 62-yard pass from Tennesse Tech quarterback Tre Lamb to receiver Jordan Smith to give Tennesee Tech a 7-0 advantage.
The Golden Eagles went ahead by two touchdowns early in the second quarter after ending a 5-play, 68-yard drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Lamb to Da’Rick Rogers, a transfer from the University of Tennessee.
North Greenville was forced to punt on the following possession, giving Tennessee Tech the ball on their own 23-yard line. The drive lasted just one play as senior linebacker Jonathon Sharpe intercepted a pass and returned it 22 yards to give North Greenville its first scoring chance of the game. Junior receiver Freddie Martino scored his first touchdown of the season on a 4-yard scamper to cut the lead to 14-7 with just under seven minutes until the half.
After a fumble by the North Greenville offense was recovered by Tennessee Tech and returned to the NGU 30-yard line, the Golden Eagles quickly scored on an Adam Urbano 21-yard run to go ahead 21-7 just before the half.
The Crusaders received the ball to start the second half of play and drove the ball to the TTU 40-yard line before turning the ball over on downs. With the ball close to midfield, Tennessee Tech once again engineered a scoring drive that ended with another rushing touchdown by Urbano to put the score at 28-7 with 9:48 remaining on the clock.
North Greenville answered with a scoring drive of their own as sophomore quarterback Joey Carter directed a 9-play, 81-yard drive that ended with a 14-yard pass from Carter to Martino to put the Crusaders within two scores.
Tennessee Tech scored 14 unanswered points to end the third quarter and ran out the clock for much of the fourth quarter to secure the 28-point victory.
On offense, the Crusaders improved in great numbers as the unit totaled 314 yards and two touchdowns. Carter, in his first career start at the college level, completed 16-of-25 passes for 127 yards and one touchdown to go with an interception, while freshman quarterback Tyrell Hillary finished the game 1-for-2 for 20 yards. Martino led the receiving corps with five receptions for 44 yards and a touchdown and rushing for another. Senior Kamrie Connell had a strong game with three receptions for 36 yards, while fellow senior Taylor Malphrus caught one pass for 20 yards. On the ground, freshman Darius Paulk had his first ever 100-yard performance as he rushed 20 times for 120 yards in the game, while freshman Classe Thompson carried seven times for 26 yards, all in the fourth quarter.
On defense, the Crusaders allowed 478 total yards of offense, including 274 through the air and 204 on the ground. Junior Michael Klein continued his strong start to the season as he led the defense with 10 tackles, including one tackle for a loss and one sack. Sophomore linebacker Nick Rodgers tied for the team lead with 10 tackles and also recorded 1.5 tackles for loss and .5 of a sack, while Brandon Aldridge finished the game with nine total tackles and one forced fumble.
The Crusaders (0-2) will open play in the SAC Alliance on Saturday, September 15 as they travel to Greenville, TN to take on Tusculum College at 6 p.m.